PrEP For All

A Federal Judge Ruled That Mandated PrEP Coverage Violates Religious Beliefs and We Couldn’t Agree Less

· Updated on March 23, 2023

Another fight against PrEP begins. On Wednesday Texas federal judge Reed O’Connor ruled that Christian-owned establishments should not be required to cover HIV preventative medicine because it violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This act is commonly cited in legal cases where abortion and contraceptive access are involved. And we know how Roe v. Wade turned out.

*sighs in queer

Six individuals and two Christian-owned companies, Braidwood Management and Kelley Orthodontics, didn’t want to cover HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, a.k.a PrEP, as they didn’t want to encourage “homosexual behavior”.

*screams in queer

Well, let’s talk about it. PrEP is an antiretroviral medication designed to prevent the risk of contracting HIV. Gilead Services’ Truvada pill was approved for distribution by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2012. A second tablet, Descovy, was approved in 2019. 

The protection rate is extremely effective, with 99% effectiveness when taken as prescribed. Oh, and it’s not just for queer people. Anyone can use PrEP to protect themselves. Not just those engaging in “homosexual behaviors”. 

Under the Affordable Care Act, HIV testing and HIV preventative care must be covered by insurers. Braidwood Management, Kelley Orthodontics, and Judge O’Connor believe otherwise. Judge O’Connor stated there wasn’t any compelling evidence dictating why “private, religious organizations” should cover medication like PrEP. 

The battle for PrEP takes another turn with this recent development. When Truvada was approved in 2012, a debate ensued over whether the medication encouraged risky sexual behavior versus allowing others to take control of their sexual health. 

Arguments that PrEP encourages “homosexual behavior” just fuels the sexual deviant stereotype plaguing the LGBTQ community. Additionally, stating that PrEP only encourages risky sexual behavior takes away from the fact that using PrEP forces folks to have serious conversations about their sexual health, screen for STIs, fight HIV stigma, and close the serostatus divide between those living with HIV and those who are not. 

Needless to say, the ruling is troubling as it can lead to a struggle with gaining access to medication that has significantly changed the way we engage with sex and stigma surrounding HIV. 

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Tags: health Texas
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